ALL grounds with the exception of the Wingham Sporting Complex were open in the Group Three Rugby League area on Friday morning.
This ensures matches will go ahead. Games will be at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, Kempsey’s Verge Street Oval on Saturday with Wingham due to host Forster-Tuncurry on Sunday.
“I’ve spoken to the Wingham club are they are very confident their field will be right for their match on Sunday,’’ Group Three chief executive Barrie Smith said.
OLD Bar will be without two strike weapons going into Sunday’s Group Three Rugby League clash against Port Macquarie at Port.
The Pirates will be minus centres Clint Walker and Alan McDonald. Walker was suspended for a match this week after being cited following an incident with Taree City’s Mick Henry last match. McDonald was injured in that game and is likely to be rested,
Co-captain-coach Jake Wheeler said Robert Bungie and Josh Woods will come into the side, probably as the centre pairing.
The Pirates sit a point ahead of Port and Wingham in fourth place.
“We’ve set ourselves up pretty well following the first round,’’ Wheeler said.
“Now we have to get a couple more wins and get into the top three. It would be good to finish second, but the top three would be good.’’
Wheeler expects the game to be forward orientated in what will be heavy going at the Port stadium.
“Port’s strength is probably their forwards, but I’d back our back against anyone,’’ he said.
Danger game warns Wingham coach
FORSTER-Tuncurry may be sitting without a win in last spot on the Group Three Rugby League ladder, however, Wingham coach Jamie Moorehead warns Sunday’s game at the Wingham Sporting Complex is dangerous for his team.
The Tigers are in equal fifth spot with Port Macquarie, one shy of Old Bar. Moorehead is concerned that a loss to the Hawks in a game they'd be expected to win, would be disastrous to Wingham’s top five prospects.
“If we’re beaten we could drop out of the five and it could be hard to get back in,’’ he said.
“The closest Forster came to a win in the first round was against us, so they’ll be keen.’’
The Tigers should be close to full strength, although second rower Joel Kleindienst could be an absentee because of work commitments.
“At this stage Kurt (Lewis) is the only player we’ll have out,’’ Moorehead said.
He expects the match winning Lewis to be back in three to four weeks. Lewis is recovering from knee surgery.
“He’s right into his rehab and doing a lot of cycling,’’ Moorehead explained.
“But he hasn’t done any contact work yet.’’
Lewis sustained the injury in the opening minutes of the first round clash against Forster-Tuncurry. This is the only competition football he has played this season. Under 18 representative Tahj Wood has played five-eighth in his absence.
Bulls strike injury problems
TAREE City coach Gary Bridge has labelled his side’s clash against Macleay Valley at Kempsey tomorrow a ‘must win’ as the Bulls look to lock up a top three place on the competition ladder.
The Bulls are currently in third place behind Port City and Macleay. However, Taree faces a difficult fortnight with games against the Mustangs and the Breakers – both on the road.
“We need the points this weekend,’’ Bridge said.
“We haven’t lost a game in five matches and we’re getting some good momentum going, but we have to keep this up.’’
The Bulls have some injury problems and will be without hooker Mick Henry for three weeks and centre Aaron Bayley for a month. Henry sustained a badly cut head in the clash against Old Bar a fortnight ago while Bayley has injured ligaments in his thumb.
Bridge said under 18 captain Toby De Stefano will deputise as hooker. De Stefano won’t play in the junior fixture.
Bridge said Jake Lauder will come into the starting 13 for Bayley.
The Mustangs have been in indifferent form in the past month, but Bridge expects them to be formidable on their home track.
Unbeaten Port City meets Wauchope at Port in the other game.